Martin Starts Link-blogging

When I started this blog, it was with the intention to write a post only when I had something interesting to say. Well, given my deplorably low posting frequency over the past year, I guess we have found out how interesting a person I really am.

So I am going to, every now and then, write a blog post just to share some links I found on the web recently which happened to catch my eye.

Through the tvtropes site, which is a great place to go if you’ve got a few weeks of time to kill, I stumbled upon the webcomic Fleep. It’s a fairly short story, but it is one of the more intelligent and touching works of fiction I have read — in any medium. The protagonist wakes up locked inside a phone booth encased in concrete, with no memory of how he got there. Using only the things he has in his pockets, in addition to his intelligence and math skills, heĀ  manages to figure out what’s going on and form a plan to escape. There’s a chilling twist and a bitter-sweet conclusion.

Here is a matter-of-fact look at the differences between men and women, and why their different roles in society are as they are. Although amusingly politically incorrect, the author’s message is basically positive for both genders, and he brings up a lot of interesting facts and arguments which are worth thinking about whether or not you like the conclusion they lead to.

Speaking of politically incorrect, Paul Graham is my favourite on-line essayist, and his #1 work in my eyes is “What you can’t say”. Rather than bringing up any specific uncomfortable topics, he gives some perceptive general insights on taboos and censorship and how to deal with them. He then leaves it up to the reader to apply these lessons to concrete topics.

David Friedman, who tops my list of authors whose writings have influenced the way I think about the world around me, has recently webbed his book “The Machinery of Freedom”. It is a series of perceptive essays about the ways in which well-intentioned government intervention often backfires, and a set of ideas for organising a society with little or no government interference. I’m quite sure I don’t buy his arguments all the way through, but the book has certainly added some valuable items to my mental toolbox.

His best book in my eyes is “Hidden Order”, which explains a lot of important economics concepts in an easy-to-follow way, and applies them to topics which would not initially seem to fall within the purview of economics. (If that reminds you of Freakonomics, you’re thinking in the right direction, but Freakonomics is a bag of snacks where Hidden Order is a solid meal.) An earlier book of his, “Price Theory”, has been webbed completely; it has the same structure and covers the same subjects, is perhaps even a bit more thorough in a few places, although the writing is slightly less polished.